Freshman Sophia Thompson speaks on her experiences with the Huntley cheer team

Lauren Schmit, Staff Writer

Every high school student experiences the joys of attending their first football game. The overcrowded seats, the loud screaming of people of all ages, and the overwhelming feeling of an intense game. Although being on the sideline as a cheerleader is a completely different experience. For Sophia Thomspon all of the experiences at football games are unfamiliar.

Thompson is currently a cheerleader for the varsity cheer team as a freshman but has not yet attended a football game in her high school experience so far. She has worked hard to get to where she is. She is a junior coach for Huntley Cheer Academy where she coaches sixth and seventh graders. She also has been involved with cheerleading ever since middle school.

“High school is definitely very different from where I cheered before so obviously it is a big change. I just love the cheer environment and I love the people that I cheer with so I don’t think it’s any more like pressure,” Thompson said.

Thompson looks forward to this being a continued hobby through high school and even college. She is very passionate about cheerleading and accomplishing her goals of improving her skills.

“I feel like the biggest motivation is like, I made varsity as a freshman, it’s such a big motivation. Now I just want to get better and better in the future,” Thompson said

According to Thompson, she was nervous about the cheerleading tryouts that were being held over the summer. The people trying out were split up into two groups depending on their capabilities.

As a freshman, this can be a nerve-wracking moment especially with the uncertainty of how cheer would be operating in the future because of COVID-19. Everyone was calm and welcoming, which made Thompson more confident in herself.

“I remember one of the first days of tryouts a junior came up to me, Ava Garifo. I don’t recall the exact conversation, but she could tell that I was a little bit nervous and everything,” Thompson said.

This cheer season had been very inconsistent like many other sports teams. The cheerleaders would practice for a few weeks at a time. Then it would be postponed until further notice. This has been difficult for many to stay on top of training and be prepared for competition or doing sideline cheers. The main issue is the cheerleaders are struggling with practicing stunts because they have to follow CDC guidelines revolving around social distancing.

“I feel like I’ve learned from this whole experience what a very good, motivated team is like. We’re all still here and we’re all still doing what we love. The coaches have put 100% effort into us. We’re almost like a family, it’s a great environment,” Thompson said.

According to Thompson, the varsity competition team is involved in a virtual Illinois High School Association cheerleading competition. Although this is different from previous years, it is the safest way possible to have that competition experience, but also follow the CDC guidelines.

“It’s very different from the normal experience because the competition is now virtual. We just record a video of us performing and send it in full uniform, so it’s still really safe. Then the judges gather all the videos from all different schools,” Thompson said.

Overall, Thompson and most sports teams have shown so much flexibility and perseverance through this time as they still manage to find ways to pursue what they love doing. She has maintained optimism throughout this year of uncertainty as a freshman and still worked her hardest to achieve her goals.